L’homme est né libre

Roybon SofLI’ve been writing about the replicas of the Statue of Liberty you can find throughout France. Last time, I was focusing on those in Brittany. Switching to the other side of the country, to Roybon, near Grenoble, you will find a ten foot replica that has been in place since 1906. It was erected in honor of a local-boy-done-good, Henri Saint-Romme and was bequeathed by Bartholdi himself. Bartholdi’s friend was the mayor of Roybon and the son of Saint-Romme. The mayor donated his inheritance to make the monument to his father. (Maybe it didn’t fit in his garden. Maybe he preferred gnomes.) In terms of size, this little lady, pedestal and all, would fit in the palm of the one in New York.

staffriqueSaint-Affrique, not far from the glorious viaduct de Millau, also boasts a reproduction in bronze of the famous lady. The statue was installed to mark the centenary of the French Revolution. The torch was replaced by a light to help illuminate the town square. It, too, was removed and melted by the occupying Germans during the war. Post-war, the townspeople voted to replace it post-haste, but other needs took priority. Finally, in 2006, Lady Liberty made her return, forged in a modern interpretation rather than as an exact replica.

And finally, the last Statue of Liberty that I could track down in France is in the musée National de la cooperation franco-américaine in Blérancourt, in Picardy in the north of France. The museum was founded by the daughter of J. Pierpont Morgan. Through art in many forms, the museum traces the friendship between the two nations from the French support for the rebels during the American War of Independence through the American artists who came to France up through the 20th century. Anne Morgan was a talented photographer, and her works are also on display. Since there is literally no larger symbol of that friendship than Bartholdi’s statue, a reproduction is appropriately housed here. This is one of the smaller, terra cotta versions. It was given to the ship captain, de Saune, who transported the full version to the United Stated in 1885. The museum is currently undergoing renovations, however, and will be closed until sometime in 2014.

August 5: Statue of Liberty begun.

August 5: Statue of Liberty begun. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, “L’homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers” (lum eh nay leebruh, eh partoo eeleh dahn lay fair), which means “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” Wherever you next see Bartholdi’s representation of liberty, whether that be in the New York harbor or one of the many reproductions in France, take a moment to reflect on what it means to be free.

51pfJsew%2BrL__SL75_Lady with a Past: A Petulant French Sculptor, his Quest for Immortality, and the Real Story of the Statue of Liberty

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About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France. Follow her on Instagram @Onequalitythefinest and on Twitter @1qualthefinest.
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